Unlike a good blush or incredible lipstick, the best setting powder isn’t made to be a look—which is why it’s an easy step to skip when you’re pressed for time or money. It’s got a bad reputation of making your face look dry and cakey, which certainly doesn’t help either.
So let’s reframe it for you: Think of setting powder as a tool (and a highly underrated one at that) that can vastly extend the life of your makeup, like the way a topcoat does for your manicure. A few dabs can lock your makeup in place, keep shine to a minimum, and soak up sweat and oil—qualities that are undeniably useful when the weather’s hellishly humid or wet. It can be just as reliable during the winter too. The latest formulations include hydrating and brightening ingredients like vitamins C and E to give your skin a smooth Instagram-filtered finish, instead of one that’s rough and wind-chapped.
From Cover FX’s talc-free formula—perfect for those with sensitive skin—to Ilia’s natural loose powder, here Glamour editors tested the top tinted and translucent options in order to share which stood above the rest.
Best Setting Powder Overall: Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder
Talk to any makeup artist, and you’ll likely find this setting powder in their kit. That’s because one fine layer of this silky, hydrating formula rivals Instagram’s Subtle filter (you know, the one every influencer uses). The secret? The formula is infused with light-refracting diamond powder, which gives your skin a glisteny (but not sparkly) blurred finish. I’ve seen artists use it on a range of skin tones and never has it left a white cast. Skeptical? Read all its five-star reviews. This powder is a winner. —Lindsay Schallon, senior beauty editor
Best Drugstore Setting Powder: Maybelline Fit Me! Loose Finishing Powder
I’ve got super oily—but dehydrated—skin, so I’m constantly dealing with a complexion that somehow looks greasy and dry at the same time. This is the only drugstore powder that manages to put both issues to rest. I’ve found the trick is to press it in with a makeup puff (instead of swirling it on with a brush), which leaves behind a blurred, your-skin-but-better finish that looks flawless both in real life and photos. —L.S.
Best Luxury Setting Powder: La Mer The Powder
I love a flawless no-makeup makeup look, and stan by any and all products that help me get a little closer to that. The translucent color works well on my fair skin, and since I don’t use foundation, I’ve been applying it over my concealer for a little extra sparkle. It sure is pricey, but if luxe beauty is your vice, then it’s totally worth it. —Talia Abbas, commerce writer
Best Translucent Setting Powder: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder
I’ve tried a lot of loose powders before, and they all either make my skin look blotchy, or go on white and make me look like a ghost. This does neither! It applies flawlessly and keeps my oily pores at bay, but not to the point that my skin produces more oil. Also, Jackie Aina loves it. In my opinion, there is no better endorsement than that. —Khaliha Hawkins, producer
Best Loose Setting Powder: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Setting Powder
I’ve used setting powder only a handful of times before, since it always seemed like an extra step I could easily do without. However, the Fenty Pro Filt’r Setting Powder went above and beyond. True to form, the brand came through with a wide range of skin tones to choose from (eight is a lot for this kind of product—some brands offer just two), so it blended well with my medium-tan skin and yellow undertone. Rihanna knows a thing or two about being camera ready, and it’s obvious with this product, because the pore-blurring, mattifying effect would be worthy of digital camera days of the early aughts, or even the brightest of Lumee Lights. —Erin Parker, commerce writer
Best Pressed Setting Powder: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Pressed Powder
For someone who just started dabbling with setting powders, I really enjoyed this one from Neutrogena. The shade range isn’t as robust as some other brands’, but it’s still a great starter product since the pressed powder makes it easy to control the amount you apply—especially for smaller coverage areas like under your eyes. Plus, for someone who has dry skin, it’s formulated with hydrating and brightening antioxidants like vitamin B5 and vitamins C and E. —T.A.
Best Setting Powder for Dry Skin: Tarte Shape Tape Setting Powder
My skin is Mojave Desert–dry, so setting powders aren’t something I typically gravitate toward (I’m more of a desperate-for-dewy kind of person), but Tarte’s Shape Tape Setting Powder has officially changed my makeup routine. It blurs any blemishes and sets my makeup without gathering in the cracks in my (and I can’t stress this enough) dry skin. Plus the little powder puff that it comes with is so soft and plush it’s worth the price of admission alone. —Shanna Shipin, commerce editor
Best Setting Powder for Acne-Prone Skin: Nars Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder
I have combination skin, so it’s tricky to find a powder that can mattify any shine I may be dealing with without it clinging to dry patches. Most mattifying powders are way too cakey, and more luminous ones make me look too slick. Then I came across this Nars powder. It’s hefty enough to soak up any lurking oil, yet so finely milled that it takes a lot to overdo it and look powdery. Although it’s described as light-reflecting, there’s no visible shimmer—it just has a natural finish that makes my skin look airbrushed, which is always the goal. —Isabella Cacciatore, beauty associate
Best Setting Powder for Oily Skin: Marc Jacobs Beauty Finish-Line Perfecting Coconut Setting Powder
This is the powder to grab in summer, when the heat is at its most unbearable, or before/after a workout. It’s so lightweight—and, real talk, so good at soaking up your sweat—that you’ll forget you’re even wearing makeup. —Anna Moeslein, senior editor
Best Setting Powder for Sensitive Skin: Cover FX Perfect Setting Powder
I swear by the Cover Fx Power Play foundation and concealer, so trying the powder was a no-brainer. Unlike the foundation and concealer, the powder doesn’t have a large range of shades, so choosing between the light and dark was very time consuming. The Translucent light shade was perfect and didn’t leave a white cast on my face. It blended in well and didn’t let the oils in my skin shine through. —K.H.
Best Vegan Setting Powder: Ilia Soft Focus Finishing Powder
We all want a loose powder that will survive the humidity of the New York City subway system, right? Well, how about a powder that can combat sweat at the NYC Pride Parade? Yes, I’m serious. After testing this, I’ve concluded that either my skin is magic or this product is (and I’m pretty sure it’s the latter). Lightweight and cute, it’s dependable for any occasion. —E.P.
Best Setting Powder for Combination Skin: Milk Makeup Blur + Set Matte Loose Setting Powder
This setting powder is seriously a dream. Not only does it eliminate oil and shine, but the lightweight formula keeps my makeup looking fresh all day. It lies perfectly over my concealer and doesn’t make my skin look dry or chalky. —E.P.
Best Lightweight Setting Powder: Lawless Seal The Deal Loose Setting Powder
I’ve gone through a lot of loose powders over the years, some good, some bad. When I learned that Lawless Beauty was launching one with no talc, I knew I had to try it out. I’ve been using this for a couple weeks, and my skin is noticeably different. The best thing is that as soon as I started to use it, all my breakouts disappeared. I use the Brightening Translucent shade to set and bake my foundation, then dust on the Golden Translucent to contour. I really don’t think I’ll ever use another powder. Lawless uses mica, which is not only healthier than talc, but is the secret to making this powder so lightweight that it doesn’t cake onto your skin. —Azadeh Valanejad, contributor
Best Antiaging Setting Powder: Onomie AHA Perfecting Setting Powder
I’ve fallen in love, and the object of my affection is this powder. The featherlight formula goes onto my skin seamlessly, leaves me looking fresh and rejuvenated, and doesn’t look even remotely mask-like. What’s more: It left my face feeling baby smooth. That’s probably thanks to all of its good-for-you ingredients, like skin-softening lactic acid and collagen-boosting peptides. Oh, and let’s not forget its inclusion of vitamin C, which helps block free radicals. Into it. —Jennifer Lance, weekend writer